Can Isaac Clark survive a third round with the Necromorph scourge?
Dead Space 3 is an amazingly great game in spite of a few, yet obvious flaws. Its superb combat and addictive collecting and upgrade mechanics are great additions to the franchise, however the game is plagued by it’s constant errand running, and rather bland story along with a strong sense of deja vu that make up the better half of its nineteen chapter adventure.Despite these flaws, just with the previous entries, I can’t stop playing. .
Dead Space 3 also marks the first game where co-op is an option. (Player 2 taking control of Sgt. John Carver) Very few games boast a rich atmosphere as Dead Space 3. Visceral Game’s engine easily renders everything in crystalline clarity. The eerily depth of space stretches out in differently in a haze which channels the spirit of the 80’s sci-fi and horror films while the snow and ice driven terrain of Tau Volantis pays homage to John Carpenter’s The Thing.
The music and sound design are top notch along with the visuals. They support each other well enough with traces back to classic genre soundtracks from Brian May (The Road Warrior), James Horner (Alien), and Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight Trilogy). The voice acting is also done really well.
When it was announced that Dead Space 3 would have co-op, many fans were fearful that this meant that the series were moving away from its horror roots and to the more mainstream stage of action-thriller. Playing in co-op erodes the sense of isolation, but the lingering feelings of dread and scares remain intact. For those who don’t want nor care about playing in co-op, they can still have a relatively faithful Dead Space experience. The game responds pretty decent to the addition of a second player which will definitely come in handy in some of the more difficult encounters and boss fights. Carver’s presence also introduces some new lines of dialogue as well as a bunch of great optional co-op missions that explore his very tragic past. These co-op missions are some of the best parts of the overarching story and it makes me wish why Visceral didn’t put it as an option that you could do Carver’s back-story alone instead of on co-op.
Just like in the first two games, the combat reigns supreme in Dead Space 3. The combat is physical, vicious, and feral. The strategic dismemberment concept is the Dead Space franchise’s bread and butter. Even if you’ve played the first two games, Dead Space 3’s combat is still some of the most unique and satisfying of this generation.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing additions to Dead Space 3 is crafting and upgrading system. Gone are the days where you’d buy your weapons and ammo and health items at a store. This new concept really adds to the combat experience. The player will constantly be on the look out for new parts and resources to either build a new weapon, or upgrade their existing one. These decisions on what the player chooses to do makes for terrific tension all on its own. These new systems work together in a way that it creates a reward structure in which you’ll want to come back to.
Like I previously mentioned, Dead Space 3’s story feels bland and forced. Isaac has retreated from society, left his new girlfriend, and turned his back on the fight against the Unitologists and their markers. Yet when he finds out that Ellie is in trouble that is what propels him forward to fight on. Why now and why not earlier when she called and left a dozen different messages for him? This is the introduction to a fairly boring and uninteresting love triangle along with a series of far-fetched events. I will not go into spoiler territory but there is no way that with what the player discovers on Tau Volantis would go unnoticed for 200 years which could’ve helped the fight against the markers and the necromorphs. The writers must have noticed this because there’s an entire prologue trying to sell this single plot point. Also things seem to conveniently fall into place when Isaac and his team start to piece everything together in the second half of the game.
In addition to this stumbling story, Visceral has seemed to have backtracked to the original game as most of the progression is spent doing chores and errands. Isaac just can’t catch a break as whatever could go wrong, does go wrong and the solution is almost always either finding some lost item in a building on the other side of where you are. This structure feels so similar in routine and weakness of the original, at times Dead Space 3 feels more like Dead Space 1 all over again.
This shows that Visceral really didn’t have anything new to add to the lore or story. Isaac is a broken shell of his former self and this results in him being flat and rather bland throughout the majority of the game with very little development. Instead of some clever game-play that we saw in Dead Space 2, like the straightjacket intro or the grueling and horrific eyeball needle sequence. We’re instead treated to a bunch of mediocre mini-games and fetch quests. Other nagging issues include a reoccurring boss fight with a creature in which you must fight on three separate occasions. a terrible, and rather awkward fight against an angry drill, and an extremely generic final boss fight. Considering the elegance, sophistication, and lore of the world, combat and upgrade/crafting mechanics, it’s a shame that everything else feels rather meh.
The combat system and the world that Visceral has created in Dead Space 3 is so expertly woven and built that I found myself overlooking my main critiques and complaints because I thoroughly enjoyed playing it. This is a very important distinction to make: loving a game while being aware of its faults. Dead Space 3, when played the way I have, on New Game+ is an engrossing and satisfying experience. However it requires ignoring the bland story and the numbing to do lists. It only then becomes about building up the most powerful, best outfitted Isaac that you can imagine. Dead Space 3 may stumble and even fall down on itself sometimes, but it learns on how to pick it self back up in the aspects of combat, and upgrading/crafting.
Contributor: [Adam Buskirk]